Monday, October 5, 2020

Prof Donald Hoffman #1 - Mystery - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - The scalpel that split consciousness

Visualizing the physical source of consciousness.


A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

Chapter 1, Mystery - The scalpel that split consciousness

Hoffman begins by telling us about Joseph Bogen and Philip Vogel who in 1962 pioneered “corpus callosotomy” a procedure that sliced through the brain’s corpus callosum, which runs between the two hemispheres of the brain.  It’s done to short circuit the neural feedback loop that triggers extreme epileptic fits.

Then onto the Helmholtz Club, a small group of neurosurgeons, cognitive scientists, and philosophers that met to,

DH:  “explore how advances in neuroscience might spawn a scientific theory of consciousness.”   (¶7)

DH:  “The mystery of consciousness, which was the focus of the Helmholtz Club … is quite simply the mystery of who we are.  Your body, like other objects, has physical attributes such as position, mass, and velocity… (just like a rock)”   (¶7)

DH:  “Like a rock, we have bona fide physical properties.  But, unlike a rock, we have conscious experiences and propositional attitudes.  Are these also physical.  If so, it’s not obvious”   (¶10) 

DH:  “So, what kind of creature are you?  How is your body related to your conscious experiences and propositional attitudes?  How is your experience of a chai latte related to activities in the brain?  Are you just a biochemical machine?   (¶11)

“Just a biological machine”?  What does that mean?  What’s Hoffman trying to imply?  What’s Hoffman expecting?  

What’s wrong with inhabiting the most amazing biological creature that the pageant of Evolution has ever produced?


DH:  If so, how does your brain give rise to your consciousness experiences?   (¶11)

To establish the fabulous mystery that our consciousness presents, Hoffman goes down memory lane beginning with Gottfried Leibniz in 1714.  Leibniz one of greatest thinkers of his day gave a lot of thought to the brain - perception problem.

Leibniz shared a sort of “mind experiment” - imagining a brain expanded so much that we could walk through it.  There we could see and understand the most minute mechanisms that produced the mind:

Leibniz:  “… on going into it (we) would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would (we) find anything to explain Perception” 

In 1869 Thomas Huxley was “flummoxed” and lamented on how could “so remarkable as a state of consciousness” results from “irritating nervous tissue”?

1890 American William Thomas agreed with Irish physicist John Tyndall:

Tyndall:  “The passage from the physical of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable.”

1910 “James and Freud offered deep insights into human psychology, and understood that psychology and neurobiology are correlated.  But they had no theory of how brain activity might cause conscious experiences, no idea how to dispel the mystery.

DH:  “Consciousness is still one of the greatest mysteries of science.”   (¶16)

It still is, in 2005 the journal Science survey ranked the top 125 open questions in science.  “What is the biological basis of consciousness?” ranked second behind understanding Dark Matter and Energy.

DH:  “Note how Science states the question: What is the biological basis of consciousness?”  It reveals the kind of answer that most researchers expect - that there is a biological basis for consciousness, that consciousness is somehow caused by, or arises from, or is identical to, certain kinds of biological processes.   (¶19)

Well, yes, and that expectation arrises because that’s where all the evidence points.

Hoffman continues,

DH:  “Given this assumption, the goal is to find the biological basis and describe how as Francis Crick put it in his Astonishing Hypothesis, “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.”   (¶19)

Hoffman then brings it back to the Helmholz Club and their pursuit of answers to these mysteries,

DH:  “We sought clues that would lead us to the critical nerve cells and molecules that would crack the mystery of consciousness.”   (¶21)

Paragraph 21 is interesting, with its return to the historic search for élan vital, the vital force that produced life out of matter and that produces the obvious and dramatic difference between a living person and the dead carcass.

DH:  “… Debate between vitalists and biologists persisted until the celebrated discover, in 1953, of the double helix of DNA, which proved the vitalists wrong.  This structure, with its four-letter code and penchant for replicating, brilliantly solves the problems of cooking up life, mechanistically, from purely physical ingredients. …”   (¶22)

Long story short much was promised and expected by the pioneering scientists of the 1950s and ‘60s - yet, here we are 2020 and according to Hoffman no closer to valid answers. 

Makes me think about Isaac Asimov’s excellent essay, “The Relativity of Wrong,” I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in following along as I slowly plow through this book.  

Here Hoffman defined the expectations for arriving at a satisfactory answer.

DH:  “Absent a mathematical proof to the contrary, and given the impressive precedent of DNA, it is sensible to search for a double helix of neuroscience - a key fact whose discovery unravels the mystery of consciousness.”   (¶24)

“A double helix of neuroscience”?  The analogy doesn’t sit right by me.  DNA is molecular stuff, bricks and mortar, what’s happening in our own cerebral cortex, seat of consciousness is something altogether different.

DH:  “Perhaps we’re not clever enough, and an experiment will teach us what we can’t surmise from an armchair.”   (¶24)

Or perhaps we’re expecting too much, after all there were all sorts of shocking discoveries about DNA that totally demolished many scientists’ overblown early predictions and expectations - revealing them to be too simplistic and weighted by fanciful human expectations.  

Hoffman takes us back to “split-brain patients and introduces the Nobel Prize (1981) winning work of neurobiologist Roger Sperry

DH:  “They reveal several surprises about human consciousness.”  (¶25)

Hoffman goes into details, but I believe they are irrelevant to his actual Case Against Reality.  Not that it isn’t fascinating and insightful in it’s own right, just that it belongs to a different discussion.  In the context of this book, it’s stage setting.

DH:  “What kind of creatures are we …”  (¶40)

We are biological beings along with all other creatures upon this planet.  Dr. Sperry’s studies shocked.  But that shock was a reflection of our short sightedness, after digesting the information his findings become self-evident and logical (in light of all we know).

DH:  “… that our beliefs, desires, personalities, and perhaps the destinies of our souls can be split with a scalpel.”   (¶40)  

“Destinies of our souls?”  Here Hoffman is once again dances with religion, as opposed to science.  

As for the answers, he offered some pretty satisfactory answers when summarizing the state of understanding.  Then tends to simply walk away.  He wants more bells and whistles.  Very modern, dismiss what you have, in favor of expecting more.

DH:  “Why are we conscious?”   (¶40)

We are conscious because over 800,000,000 years ago cells learned how to work together and eventually created Earth’s earliest critters.  Those critters can’t be understood without understanding their environment - with its three dimensions racing through time.  

In order to navigate the flow of time within that space, creatures needed to taste their environment.  No taste, no finding nutrients, or getting away from bad stuff.  Creatures lived on a planet with day and night so of course they would need to develop some sort of light sensing organ.  If they wanted to move faster, they needed to attain an image of some sort, so light sensing organs became binocular and developed into ever more amazing eyes.

Consider that it took billions of years for organic stuff to figure out how to create a community, a living cell.  Cells then figured out how to cooperate and evolved into creatures.  It took creatures over half a billion years to hone the senses that inhabit our human bodies and the others that exist throughout the animal kingdom today.  

I suggest the better place to finds some answers is by learning more about Earth’s pageant of evolution and what it means to making you the organism you are.  

The problem I’m suspecting is that, without even being conscious of it, Hoffman’s human is set apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, even if he occasional gives a nod to evolution and other creatures, it’s more like distracting window dressing when it happens.

DH:  “What is consciousness?   (¶40)   

I believe Christof Koch, PhD. summarized it much better in the June 2018 Scientific American, “Consciousness is everything you experience, the origin and nature of these experiences, sometimes referred to as qualia, has been a mystery from the earliest days of antiquity right up to the present.”

DH:  “Can neuroscience decipher the perennial mystery of the human consciousness?”   (¶40)

Koch offers a summary of current knowledge in his Scientific American article, and all we know is rather amazing and humbling to me.

Koch PhD:   “All of the vast cerebellar apparatus is irrelevant to subjective experience. Why? Important hints can be found within its circuitry, which is exceedingly uniform and parallel (just as batteries may be connected in parallel). The cerebellum is almost exclusively a feed-forward circuit: one set of neurons feeds the next, which in turn influences a third set. 

There are no complex feedback loops that reverberate with electrical activity passing back and forth. (Given the time needed for a conscious perception to develop, most theoreticians infer that it must involve feedback loops within the brain's cavernous circuitry.) 

Moreover, the cerebellum is functionally divided into hundreds or more independent computational modules. Each one operates in parallel, with distinct, nonoverlapping inputs and output, controlling movements of different motor or cognitive systems. They scarcely interact—another feature held indispensable for consciousness.

One important lesson from the spinal cord and the cerebellum is that the genie of consciousness does not just appear when any neural tissue is excited. More is needed. 

This additional factor is found in the gray matter making up the celebrated cerebral cortex, the outer surface of the brain. It is a laminated sheet of intricately interconnected nervous tissue, the size and width of a 14-inch pizza. Two of these sheets, highly folded, along with their hundreds of millions of wires—the white matter—are crammed into the skull. All available evidence implicates neocortical tissue in generating feelings. …”


DH:  “Might we glimpse and even comprehend our very selves?  (¶40)  


To “even comprehend our very selves” I’ve read that question over and over and I wind up feeling sorry for Hoffman and others who don’t seem to comprehend one’s own ‘being’ given all we’ve learned.  

Humanity has achieved amazing scientific insights into our bodies, with astounding information and visualizations that provide intellectual tools to help us become aware of one’s own body in action like never before.  

Why does Hoffman make it sound as though unless we know every last detail we must feel like losers, incomplete, inadequate, seemingly knowing nothing?  

I reject that notion and revel in the amazing understanding science has afforded me.  

Not only of my physical body, but also of this interesting mind that’s been accompanying it these past 65 years and that’s learned to comprehend, then appreciate Deep Time and the Pageant of Evolution which has unfolded upon our planet.  Including who I am and my place in the universe and peace with the knowledge that my life will be extinguished someday and my constituent pieces will flow back into Earth, as she continues on her pageant of evolution.

From breathing and what happens as those lungs fill and empty with air and the blood coursing through them picking up oxygen, then being pumped by our nonstop heart into an unbelievable network of blood vessels from mainlines to an amazing filigree of corpuscles delivering blood to every individual cell of the body, then flushing away their waste and returning to the lungs.

Scientists peer into our physical brains revealing intricacies beyond anything else in the universe.  They can read the architecture and mechanisms of the brain and pick up the ghost signals of our thoughts in action with astounding detail.  What it all means, we don’t know.  Yet.  That’s okay.  We keep learning more.

We’ve learned to comprehend how those signals get through our muscles and other organs and get converted into action.  I know how it is fed by air, drink, food going down the gullet and getting digested, we understand these things in astounding detail.  

But Hoffman tells me that’s not enough to afford us a sense of “self” along with a feeling of wholeness, understanding, belonging, and inner solidity.  I beg to differ.

DH:   “Many (experimenters) hunt for neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs), expecting that as the hunt succeeds, as the list of correlations grows, a critical discovery will solve the mystery of consciousness, just as the double helix solved the mystery of life.   (¶41)

Hoffman repeats the DNA analogy a few times, but it seems contrived and inappropriate.  I’m thinking about the difference between a radio station, and the signals radiating out into the air.

From here Hoffman gets into the exotic world of achromatopsic via transcranial magnetic stimulation and its effects, and related stories, again I do consider that fascinating in it’s own right, but it’s a diversion, so won’t dwell on it.  

DH:  “NCCs are key data for a theory of consciousness.  Such a theory must perform two tasks.  It must delineate the boundary between the conscious and unconscious, and it must explain the provenance of rich variety of our experiences…”   (¶48)

Fair enough, my issue is with the claim that, “evolution hides the truth from our eyes.”  

DH:  “As you view the middle cube, you probably flip between the two experiences… the neat trick in this experiment is that your experience flips, but the image doesn’t change”   (¶50)

In later chapters we will explore this in more detail.  For now, suffice it to say the “cube” does not flip.  There is no cube to begin with!  It is a series of artfully constructed lines on a two dimensional surface that confuses the brain.  

Can you think of a single creature on this Earth with one eye in the middle of its head?  There’s a good reason for that.  Please consider what creatures through time have had to accommodate.  That is, a need to see, think and navigate within a three dimensional reality that can’t be escaped.  

Why be surprised those eyes can be fooled by any number of optical illusions and deceptions?  Our brains are made to navigate us through a 3D world that races through time, and that’s how our eyes and brains are going to interpret all incoming information.

Bottom line, it’s no secret that our senses and brain compose the image our mind’s eye perceives.  Selecting and rejecting data according to, … well, that’s one of the big questions, isn’t it?  So lets simply acknowledge that it happens and that there probably are surprises waiting as we learn more, but odds are, no reality shattering insights.  

Hoffman follows with an introduction to “optogenetics” …

DH:  “These are impressive application of NCCs (neural correlates of consciousness).  Equally impressive is our utter failure to understand the relationship between NCCs and consciousness.  

We have no scientific theories that explain how brain activity - or computer activity, or any other kind of physical activity - could cause, or be, or somehow give rise to, conscious experience.”   (¶53)

Hoffman, thou protests too much, methinks.

“Utter failure” sounds more like theater rather than science.  

Why dismiss all scientists have achieved in understanding the architecture of our brains and the processes by which they operate?  Sure, there’s more to learn, but to imply we remain in the dark ages when it comes to our understanding is disingenuous.  Scientists are mapping and isolating NCCs with increasing detail - where’s the utter failure?

Although then I’m reminded of the American social milieu Professor Hoffman has been raised within.  A society where an attitude of ‘too much is never enough’ seems to have permeated every aspect of our human reality.  Achievements of yesterday bore us, we need new breakthroughs everyday.  If we don’t have them, someone's always ready to imagine them.  

I’ve always thought it a shame we don’t spend more time pondering, absorbing, and learning to appreciate what we already know.

DH:  “What do we want in a scientific theory of consciousness? … These laws or principles must apply across species, or else explain precisely why different species require different laws.  No such laws, indeed no plausible ideas have ever been proposed.”    (¶54)

At a gut level I’m thinking, impossible expectations.

For a more substantive respond I recommend Dr. Koch’s “What Is Consciousness?” article which conveys a more measured (expert in the field) explanation of what’s been learned and goals that have been set for future research.

Dr. Koch:  “What is it about a highly excitable piece of brain matter that gives rise to consciousness? Once we can understand that, we hope to get closer to solving the more fundamental problem.

We seek, in particular, the neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC), defined as the minimal neuronal mechanisms jointly sufficient for any specific conscious experience. 

What must happen in your brain for you to experience a toothache, for example? Must some nerve cells vibrate at some magical frequency? Do some special “consciousness neurons” have to be activated? In which brain regions would these cells be located?

When defining the NCC, the qualifier “minimal” is important. The brain as a whole can be considered an NCC, after all: it generates experience, day in and day out. But the seat of consciousness can be further ring-fenced. …”  (also refer back to ¶40)

DH:  “I suspect Chomsky is right: there are limits to human understanding.  And I admit that these limits, whether they derive from evolution or another source, may preclude us from understanding the relation between consciousness and neural activity. … (¶62)

That sentence feels downright uncomfortable.  What about learning?  What about the passage of time and accumulating experiences and knowledge and what’s impossible now, becomes possible after more lessons and tools come along.  What about patience?

“But before punting the hard problem of consciousness, we might consider a different possibility: perhaps we possess the necessary intelligence and are unhindered by a false belief.

“False beliefs, rather than innate limits, can stump our efforts to solve puzzles. …   (¶62)

Hoffman continues,

DH:  “What false assumptions bedevils our efforts to unravel the relation between brain and consciousness?  

I propose it is this: (the assumption that) we see reality as it is. … or at least some of reality as it is”   (¶62-63)

Then Hoffman shares the age old mind game, if I see a tomato on the table, does it disappear when I close my eyes?  How do I know for sure?

DH:  “But could I be wrong?

This question, I admit sounds faintly mad.  Most sane persons, given this evidence, would surely conclude that the tomato is still there . . .

But this conclusion is a fallible belief, not a dictate of logic or an indubitable fact.  We must test its validity against advance in fields such as cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary game theory, and physics.  When we do so, the belief proves false.

This surprising result is the subject of this book.  I don’t try to solve the question of consciousness. …”   (¶65-68)

Instead, Hoffman chooses to take broadsides at our sense of spacetime/reality and begins our journey by revisiting his Necker Cube and treating it as though it were an actual cube, rather than a 2D rendering of an optical illusion.  

DH:  “What could it mean to claim that no tomato is there when I don’t look?  Our intuitions here can be helped by a glance back at the Necker cube. …”   (¶69)

There is no mystery there.  The eyes and optic nerves have been conditioned through an eternity worth of evolution to navigate within a 3D reality, of course, they can be fooled into mistakes with specific artful combinations of lines. 

That is entertainment, not science.

The Necker Cube is a flat illusion vs. the tomato is a real object in space and time.  Using that as an analogy for physical reality is a non sequitur. 

If that’s not enough, one could try an experiment by leaving both sitting on their table for a couple weeks, and watch what the one can teach about the other.  

Hoffman is ready with a retort,

DH:  “The core point will be that the reality prompting you to create your experience of a tomato is nothing like what you see and taste.  We have been misled by our perceptions.

In fact, we have a long history of being mislead. …”  (¶74/75) 

Then Hoffman is back into historical anecdotes of struggling to make sense of the gulf between our perceptions and reality.

DH:  “Our penchant to misread our perceptions … stems in part from an uncritical attitude toward our perceptions, toward what we mean by “it looks as if.”  

Anscombe says of Wittgenstein that, “he once greeted me with the question: ‘Why do people say that it was natural to think that the sun went round the Earth rather than the Earth turned on it’s axis?’ I replied: ‘I supposed, because it looked as if the sun went round the Earth.’  ‘Well,” he asked ‘what would it have looked like if it had looked as if the Earth turned on its axis?’

The question brought it out that I had hitherto given no relevant meaning to “it looks as if’ in  ‘it looks as if the sun goes around the Earth.”   (¶76)

It’s a wonderful gotcha story, and has its value, but it conveniently forgets that people also had a physical feeling, an attachment to terra firma and the relatively unchanging landscapes they lived upon.  

The point is, there’s more to perception in the real world than eye sight.

“The reality prompting you to create your experience of a tomato is nothing like what you see and taste.”  Here’s another sentence I can repeat in my mind over and over again and it never makes sense.  What is Hoffman trying to claim here?

What does he mean by implying the tomato is “nothing like what we see and taste”?  Photons bouncing off the tomato and into our eyes is processed by optic nerves which sends an image to our brain.  There’s nothing unreal about that.

The viewer may know nothing of the interior of the tomato’s cell structure and its circulatory system, or about its life cycle, or what happens under the ground as the plant grows, or how it perceives its immediate environment to find and collect the nutrition it needs.  Does our lack of understanding mean it doesn’t exist?  I ask because it sure sounds like that’s what Hoffman is implying.

There is a lot more to a tomato than color, shape, odor and taste - stuff that most choose to be oblivious to, after all we are bombarded with so much information we simply can’t attend to all of it and must reduce the load.  But, I think Hoffman is talking about something way different.

DH:  “But (Galileo) thought the tomato itself would still exist, including its body, shape, and position.  For these properties, he claimed, we see reality as it is.”  (¶79)

In other words, Galileo was thinking about the perception process itself and not questioning the reality of what was being perceived.  Hoffman seems to me to be dancing with that line.

The last four paragraph of chapter one illustrates the sort of rhetorical fancy dancing Hoffman is capable of.

DH:  “But evolution disagrees…”   (¶80)

Evolution is a process and a result, but notice that Hoffman has stealthily elevated it to an entity in and of itself.  This again sounds more like Intelligent Design than proper science.

DH:  We will see in chapter four that evolution by natural selection entails a counterintuitive theorem: the probability is zero that we see reality as it is.  

This theorem applies not just to taste, odor, and color, but also to shape, position, mass and velocity - even to space and time.  We see none of reality as it is.  

The reality that prompts you to create an experience of a tomato, the reality that exists whether or not you see a tomato, is nothing like what you see and taste.   (¶80)

“Reality” Hoffman offers no frame of reference.  Who's reality?  Mine, a spider's, a worm's?  What about physical reality?  Here he talks about reality both as in an experience, which is subjective and, (I’m guessing), a universal reality, so it’s confusing that he makes no distinctions.

Evolution through deep-time was not a self conscious entity, it was simply matter moving forward and changing through time.  

The stuff of biological evolution started billions of years ago.  Modern humans have been around for the most recent ~0.0005% of the time that animals have been. (300,000yr. vs. 600,000,000yr.)  

To seriously discuss the nuances of the human brain and the perception it produces within our minds, we need to go back to the beginnings of creatures on Earth. Instead, we’ll see that Hoffman goes to advertising psychology, very anthropocentric.  Seems to me he’s looking through the wrong end of the microscope. 

DH:  “We discard a flat earth and a geocentric universe.  We realized that we had misread our perceptions, and we corrected our error.  It wasn’t easy.  … But, these corrections were mere warm-ups.  Now we must jettison spacetime itself, and everything in it.   (¶81)

My question:  Why would understanding human consciousness require rejecting the physics that experts have been studying and refining for centuries?  

DH:  “What kind of creatures are we?  According to evolution, (that is, according to Hoffman’s Theorem of Evolution!), not creatures that see reality as it is.  

And that profoundly affects how we think about the relationship between brains and consciousness.  If space and time exist only in our perceptions, then how can anything within space and time, such a neurons and their activity, create our consciousness?   (¶82)

Eliminating spacetime means eliminating atoms and molecules, so there’d be nothing for our brains to process.  Oh yeah, our brains wouldn’t even exist.  What is going on here?

Is Hoffman actually suggesting that space-time is a product of our perceptions? 

To me it sounds like suggesting that in order to truly understand the real painting, we need to remove the paint and the canvas then we’ll discover the essence of the image.

DH:  “Understanding the evolution of perception is a critical step towards understanding who we are, and the provenance of our consciousness.   (¶83)

What makes this so mind bending is that he’s just spent paragraphs trying to dismiss the reality of the spacetime that we exist within, and now he finishes with this very balanced logical sentence.  Too bad he doesn't follow his own advice, as we shall see.

Chapter two “Beauty” begins with “beauty is in the eye of that beholder” - here Hoffman explores the fascinating connections between the perceived and the perceiver.   

Thank you, Peter Miesler

About that image, its produced by the, Human Connectome Project, copied from the article:  

“Harvard Scientists Think They've Pinpointed The Physical Source of Consciousness”

By Fiona MacDonald,  June 23, 2018

The study itself,

A human brain network derived from coma-causing brainstem lesions

December 06, 2016; 87 (23) ARTICLE

David B. Fischer, Aaron D. Boes, Athena Demertzi, Henry C. Evrard, Steven Laureys, Brian L. Edlow, Hesheng Liu, Clifford B. Saper, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Michael D. Fox, Joel C. Geerling

First published November 4, 2016, DOI:




Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

©2020 Peter Miesler
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Cmty: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentariesDonald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. ...

(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, 

“The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”
(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One
(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality
(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources
(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.
(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Students' Resource
(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource
(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource



(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Dr. Mark Solms, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinning . . . 


(7.01)  An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism     
(7.02)  Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide          
(7.03)  Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
(7.04)  It’s not a “Body-Mind Problem,”  it’s an “Ego-God Problem.”

Feel free to copy and share

Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


Public notice to W.W.Norton Co and Donald Hoffman:


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, 

a critical review:

The Case Against Reality : 

Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes

By Donald Hoffman

Published August 13th 2019 

Publisher: W.W. Norton Company

ISBN13: 9780393254693

©all rights reserved

I hereby claim FairUse on the grounds that Donald Hoffman’s “The Case Against Reality” is part of an ongoing public dialogue which Hoffman explicitly encourages others to join.  He invited critique and I accept his challenge. 

I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.  

To do Hoffman’s arguments justice I’m compelled to reprint quite a few of them as I go through his book and I appreciate both W.W. Norton Company and Donald Hoffman’s understanding, and I hope for their consent.


Peter Miesler

aka citizenschallenge

email:  citizenschallenge at gmail


Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research

The Mind as a Complex Mathematical System with Emergent Properties, Daniel Siegel

A Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind | Daniel Siegel

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, Mind, Brain and Human Relationships, Part 1 to 3 

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?  Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch

Video, Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Allen Brain Observatory: Visualizing the brain in action

Allen Cell Types Database: Understanding the fundamental building blocks of the brain

Allen Institute for Brain Science,  Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series

Brain Expansion Microscopy, Harvard Medical School,

Lattice light-sheet microscopy

Gut bacteria and mind control: to fix your brain, fix your gut!

New center advances biomedical and brain imagingUniversity of Delaware,

Stunning Brain Map Reveals Tiny Communication Network

Brain Research: New Discoveries and Breakthroughs at UC Davis


Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.


Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes SzokolszkyCatherine ReadZsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. SchneiderElena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. Clark Barrett

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


The bottom line, courtesy of:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series

Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 

Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 

As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’re done finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  

Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 

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